Six-month-old Charlotte Cleverley-Bisman lies in Starship Children's Hospital, her tiny body covered in blisters, her legs and hands black and blue. She is swollen almost beyond recognition.

If she survives her fight against suspected meningococcal B disease she will almost definitely lose both her legs below the knee. Her left hand will probably be removed.

It is too early to say how her kidneys, liver and brain will cope.

For her parents, Pam Cleverley and Perry Bisman, it is their worst nightmare come true.

"Who would want to see this happen to their child? This disease is so quick and horrible and she's so innocent," Mr Bisman said.

Last Thursday morning Ms Cleverley discovered a small blemish on Charlotte's neck. The usually bubbly baby had not been as interested in her night feed and was difficult to wake.

Suspecting the worst, Ms Cleverley raced her to the Ostend Medical Centre on Waiheke Island. Doctors confirmed it looked like meningococcal disease and Charlotte was flown immediately to Starship Children's Hospital.

She has been in intensive care ever since.

Yesterday Mr Bisman said his daughter's case highlighted the urgent need for a vaccine and for parents to be aware of the disease's symptoms.